New Setup Any Time Changing String Gauge?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by GKon, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi Folks and otherwise ;)

    I've played with medium gauge strings for the last 27 years.
    All of my basses are set up (bridge height/length, nut grooves, etc)
    for medium gauge strings.

    I'm now interested in trying a set of heavy gauge strings, mainly because I have always hated that my G sounds more "twangy" than I'd like it to. I am no "master" of the EQ but, it seems, no matter what I do, I can't quite get the heavy, beefy yet clear tone out of that string. Hence, my desire to try a set of heavy strings (I know, I know, sometimes I'm a slow learner. It only took 27 years to figure this out).

    My question is, this is merely something I want to test out. Wouldn't it mean that I'd have to re-file the nut to fit the heavy strings, to get the bass set up the way I want to?
    In doing so, if I don't like the heavy strings and want to switch back to Medium gauge, won't the nut grooves theoretically now be the wrong size? I don't want to get to the point of having to change the nut out just because I wanted to try a heavier set of strings.

    What say you?


  2. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Your action will probably move, but it won't be unplayable. The nut isn't usually a perfect fit, so you should be able to try larger strings that aren't monsters without modification.
  3. BobaFret


    Jan 22, 2008
    the short answer is probably 'yes'. I'm assuming the tension will be different and thus the neck may need some adjusting at the very least.
  4. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    If your only concern is with whether or not you''l have to refile and/or replace the nut, rest easy: You probably won't.

    Although I can't actually see the nut on your bass from where I sit (hold it right up to your computer screen, would you?), if it's set up in typical fashion, there should be sufficient space on either side of your current strings to accommodate a moderately larger gauge of strings.

  5. The nut shouldn't be an issue. You will probably have to reset the intonation though.
  6. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL
    This. Intonation will need to be reset and your truss rod will need a minor tweek from the extra tension to get it playing optimally but it shouldn't require any permanent modification.
  7. Tomorrow


    Jun 7, 2013
    I changed my basses to heavy gauge strings. I didn't need to adjust any of the nuts, but the bridge saddles (particularly the low B, E, and A) did need some adjustment.
  8. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Albuquerque, NM
    Thanks, everybody.

    I have no issues with readjusting my string height and intonation. I just didn't want to have to mess with filing the nut if I then decided I didn't like using the heavy gauge strings.

    If I'm not mistaken we're talking .05 increase in thickness per string.

    I'm going to give it a shot, then.
  9. grendle


    Mar 4, 2011
    Central FL
    Yeah shouldn't be any issues, not unless you were going over like 120 on the e or one of the matched tension cable sets from circle k
  10. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Albuquerque, NM
    Nah, just going up from 45 | 65 | 85 | 105 to 50 | 70 | 90 | 110.

    Thanks again.
  11. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Going up to those gauges you should be fine. You'll most likely need a truss rod tweak, but nothing an 1/8th of a turn shouldn't fix. Then of course you have to the action and intonation. The nut slots MIGHT need a little widening but that's easy to do if you have a file and go slow, just enough to widen the slot a little, not make it any deeper.

    Make sure when you string, you press down on the string as it breaks over the bridge saddle. A common problem with thicker strings is setting intonation. This helps with it.
  12. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Albuquerque, NM
    Thanks fourstringdrums. I appreciate the info.

    My only hesitation is in possibly having to make the nut slots wider.
    If I switch back to medium strings, i don't want them to have any excess play within the nut. That's what I don't want to happen.
  13. georgestrings

    georgestrings Inactive

    Nov 5, 2005
    Here's a thought - if it's just the sound of the G string, you might want to consider trying a set of D'Addario EXL-160s, as they're .050, .070, .085, .105 - they've worked pretty well for me...

    - georgestrings
  14. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Albuquerque, NM
    Thanks for the info.
    I'm personally not a huge fan of D'addario strings. I have, however, been contemplating just swapping out my G string for a heavier gauge GHS (which is what I'm currently using).

    I thought it would be interesting to first try and change them all out, to see what difference in sound and feel that I get.
  15. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    good advice all around, especially the key, often-missed detail of pressing the strings down at the contact points (bridge and nut) to "seat" them, eliminating any curving up off the witness points.

    usually different strings might need a truss rod tweak, but otherwise not much else.
  16. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Albuquerque, NM
    Thanks, to everyone.

    I've recently read about pressing down the contact/witness points at bridge and nut (here on TB. Go figure :) ) It has helped a lot on my 8-string bass that I was having a hell of a time when trying to set up the intonation on the low E. Once I pressed down the witness points, it was a breeze.
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